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John Wheat

Listen to this artist

OWENS, DOIE HENSLEY [TEX] (1892–1962). Country music singer and songwriter Tex Owens was born Doie Hensley Owens in Killeen, Texas, on June 15, 1892. He was the son of Curcley Sly and Susan (Frances) Owens. He came from a large and musically talented family; one of his ten sisters, Ruby Agnes, also went on to country music fame as Texas Ruby. While he was still a teenager Owens performed in a traveling outfit, Cowdell's Wagon Show, which played throughout the Texas plains. Tex Owens and his wife, Maude, were married on June 16, 1916.

Owens spent his early years as a cowboy and oilfield worker in Texas. He later held a series of jobs in the Midwest, until his friends urged him to take his musical talents to radio in 1931. For the next ten years he co-hosted the popular Brush Creek Follies, on KMBC in Kansas City, featuring his group, the Original Texas Rangers, and his two daughters Dolpha (Jane) and Laura Lee (Joy). Laura Lee later married country musician Dickie McBride and sang for many years with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (see MCBRIDE, LAURA LEE OWENS and WILLS, JAMES R.). In 1935 Owens penned his biggest hit song, "Cattle Call," which he recorded for Decca Records. The song later became a hit recording for singer Eddy Arnold. Owens also hosted the Boone County Jamboree on WLW in Cincinnati and appeared on several other radio shows.

Though Owens went back to the oilfields during World War II, he later returned to entertainment as a movie cowboy. His postwar career was cut short, however, when a horse fell on him and broke his back during the filming of Red River, with John Wayne, in 1950. Tex Owens died at his home in New Baden, Texas, on September 9, 1962. He was buried in Franklin Cemetery in Robertson County. Owens was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Harmony Books, 1977). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, John Wheat, "OWENS, DOIE HENSLEY [TEX]," accessed June 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fowqx.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 16, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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